Food Swaps

Simple Food Swaps that Will Blow Your Tummy Tops

I’ll start on Monday” – the chocolate cake on the dinner table. 
“If I don’t eat it, she will feel bad!” – the choley bhaturey made by Mom
“I need my cold coffee in the morning”– the jug of milk and sugar blended by Ramu bhaiya

Candy, Dairy and Processed foods are weapons of mass destruction, fighting off our self-control constantly and laying our insides to waste (genuinely imagining these tiny robots nuking my metabolic machinery). Eating healthy is a thing. You knew that unless you are stuck in a time capsule. Avoid desserts, fried foods, carbonated drinks, so much noise all around. But, deep down we all know that a lettuce leaf and boiled broccoli isn’t going to make us merry. 

When the home buffet is looking so delish and bountiful, and your 80-year-old Dadi is chomping away at the gulabo, you think to yourself – ‘if she can, I’m sure I can’. Here are my two cents – The trick is not to deprive yourself because that only intensifies your cravings, it’s to pick something slightly more nutritious. Substitutes and food combinations that are easier on the tummy. You aren’t going to be able to give up everything yummy at once (unless you have a lehenga to fit into because that motivation is strong). So let’s start small – four simple swaps!

Bye Masala Chai

Kiss goodbye to the morning chai (Or its slightly posher twin in the west – chai latte). I have never been able to fully comprehend the benefits of this drink that is so popular across all Indian households. To my stomach, it’s hello acidity! I know it aids digestion and all but I’d rather take two fresh Amla’s (Indian gooseberry) and juice them with water to make my own power drink. On an empty stomach, it’s a marvel. It boosts metabolism, is oozing with Vitamin C, and healthier hair and skin is the byproduct. Who would want to say no to that? 

No More Sides

We Indians have been blessed with a flavorful and plentiful cuisine (making our bellies more than plentiful). We have a habit of eating everything all at once. A variety of veggies, the roti (with ghee), and rajma. Don’t forget a dollop of rice. And as if all the spices aren’t already enough, we go for the Achaar (overkill, much). So much for our system to break down that it breaks down. 

Trade the variety for a simpler meal. Here are some ‘happy meal’ combos – 

Lentils/ Beans + Rice Or Green Veggie + Dal Chila/Besan Chila

No fluff. No extras. The lesser the number of grains your stomach has to break down, the lighter you’re going to feel. In the long run, it might also reward you with a new shape, the concave kind!

Once you go black, you won’t go back. Your cuppa needs no milk. Remember when I said that dairy contains hormones and we have enough of our own, I meant that. If that’s too much to ask then try milk of the nutty kind. Soak your nut of choice (lol) overnight, blend it with fresh water and sieve it with a cheesecloth. Ta da! You have homemade nut milk to add to your coffee or tea. Or even cereal, if it’s one of those days.

Dark and Lovely

Mmm..yeah! – the sound your brain makes when that liquid chocolate of the Italian fondant hits your tongue. Someone very smart once said, a moment on your lips, forever on your hips!’ (yeah, no kidding). Sugar is basically Satan but we can’t get ourselves to stop gorging on it. It’s simple, let’s switch it out for Dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa content). Cocoa is bursting with antioxidants and also helps you sleep better. Every time you crave something sweet, just eat a small piece. You can even make your own – cacao butter, raw cacao, some maple syrup and a pinch of salt (Salt Bae style). Add some nuts or flavourings for extra fun. So get your chef hats on, and get cracking.

Small adjustments, big rewards. And with practice, they won’t feel like compromises. I read this book that said, ‘You are what your great grandmother ate’ (Geez!). We obviously can’t go back in time, thank her for our cellulite and tell her not to eat that Boondi ka ladoo but we can make changes now and maybe help our future generations in the process. Ta!

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Prerna Gupta

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